Funding Education to Further the Economy

The Questa Education Foundation strives to make a positive impact on northeast Indiana’s workforce, one student at a time.
8/7/2017
Deborah C. Gerbers
Zack Kittaka
Funding Education to Further the Economy

The Questa Foundation is a 501©3 public charity that provides financial assistance to students seeking post-secondary education. Through grants and generous donors, the foundation is able to fund qualified students’ tuition with significant loan reduction and forgiveness. The foundation takes a three-pronged approach which focuses on traditional students, contemporary students and talent development. Questa has had outstanding results with over 80 percent of scholars graduating on time and 70 percent working in the region upon graduation.

Executive Director Marc Levy says the foundation has evolved over the years. The original goals were to increase access to post-secondary education, for students to complete their education with reduced debt and to retain talent in the northeast Indiana region. “The original core program, which is the scholars program for traditional students, focuses on students at the end of their high school education,” he says. The idea was to fund their two- and four-year education at $5,000 per year, along with an agreement that the student will uphold a commitment upon graduation to live and work in northeast Indiana. If they did that, the foundation would forgive 50 percent of their loan, and if they went to a regional partner school, 25 percent of the loan would be forgiven.

As the economy shifted a few years ago, Levy says the foundation also shifted its focus to include more contemporary students who were already employed but seeking more education. “The goal was to help individuals beyond those college freshmen to complete their education with reduced debt and also to retain talent in the workforce,” says Levy. “This expanded the individuals we were serving, and also for us to be clear that post-secondary includes industry certification, associate and bachelor’s degrees.

The goal of the foundation is to prepare the workforce for the economy of the 21st century. “We want to help educate and provide the talent that employers and the community need to have a thriving economy,” says Levy. “It led us to begin talking to employers about furthering the education of their employees because potentially 60 percent of the workforce could be underdeveloped talent, according to statistics. And those motivated employees who are being paid an hourly wage cannot necessarily afford the funding for the post-secondary education they desire. So through partnering with these companies, Questa is able to help fund these educations and help retain talent.”

This nationally recognized organization has been identified as “best practice” by the Institute on Higher Education Policy and now is attempting to expand the number that can be served. The several hundred students who are currently receiving funding are only a part of those in need. They also represent only a part of the talent needed for our regional economy to thrive. Expanding partnerships with businesses, organizational foundations and individual donors are essential for the long term effort to be successful. The talent needs are broad and include: plumbers, electricians, carpenters, healthcare providers, accountants, actuaries, teachers, managers, etc. Questa is an important part of the answer to our community and regional development and can continue to make an even greater positive difference with broad-based support.

Questa Education Foundation

Address: 6502 Constitution Drive Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804

Phone: (260) 407-6494

Website: questafoundation.org

Email: info@questafoundation.org

Products & Services: To assist individuals in attaining further education beyond high school, graduating with less debt, and becoming contributing members of northeast Indiana’s workforce.

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